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Get Your 10,000 Hours In!

July 11, 2009

One thing I like about long distance travel is a chance to catch up on some reading. My son, Dustin, gave me a Kindle 2 E-book reader for my birthday and my recent trip to Texas was the first time I have really had a chance to give it a good test. I love it! I love the fact that I can now take one item lighter than a paperback book and have a years worth of reading material on it. Its screen is really eye friendly and I find it easy to use.
Other features include the ability to:
  • highlight any word and get an immediate definition
  • highlight sections of text for future reference
  • insert annotations
It will be amazing to see how this technology evolves. My biggest gripe is that it is now much harder to share books with my friends. On the other hand when enough of my friends get a Kindle we will be able to just exchange them.

I didn’t start this entry to be a review of the Kindle, I wanted to share some thoughts about the books I read during my recent travels. A few weeks back I commented on hearing author James Kunstler talk about the future. He is not an optimist and isn’t for the faint of heart but I really like what he had to say so the first book I read on my Kindle was his World Made By Hand. It is a fictional account of a small town north of Albany and how it deals with the collapse of our society as we know it. One of the interesting aspects is that the collapse takes place only about twenty years from now. I found the book entertaining and an interesting follow up to his presentation. I don’t think the collapse, whenever it happens, (although it is bound to happen because nothing lasts forever) will be as complete as the book makes it. Will we run out of power everywhere overnight? Will phone service disappear overnight? Will our ability to communicate and travel long distances disappear overnight? I don’t think so. I think these types of things, if they disappear at all, will happen gradually. None the less I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will try to read more of his work.

The Main reason I started this entry was to share some thoughts about the book I started reading on the way home from Texas. I’m nearly half way through Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success and I’m finding it fascinating. He talks about all the things that go into becoming successful and guess what? “Special aptitude” is not necessarily on the top of the list. He gives lots of examples of people who have similar aptitudes but one has an incredibly successful life by virtually all the common measures while another doesn’t. He explains why. One piece that I found particularly interesting is his observation that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice at something to become among the best. I tried to apply that to my career in teaching wilderness leadership. When I started the Wilderness Recreation Leadership Program at North Country Community College in 1979 I had about 5,000 hours of wilderness leadership training and experience. Although I felt very competent at my job I would be the first to admit that I didn’t really hit my stride for another four or five years. When I added up my approximate additional hours of experience in teaching wilderness leadership that I acquired in those additonal four or five years guess what? It totaled up to another 5,000 hours or so.

10,000 to become among the best at something…hmmm, makes sense to me.

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